An introduction to Arts and Culture in St. Catharines

The St. Catharines arts and culture community is vast and various, and it might be intimidating to know how to get involved. Luckily for you, there are enough options for everyone to enjoy the downtown core and arts of St. Catharines.

First, let’s talk about music venues. St. Catharines is a unique city in that its music scene permeates many of its venue, cafes, and community centres. There is a multiplicity of music groups, everything from old school country to cyberpunk pop. Detour Music Hall is one of the many locations in downtown that host events — currently moving to another location downtown but will be reopening in October along Geneva Street  — is located downtown St. Catharines. They focus mostly on live music, that is often locally sourced.

The music scene that exists within St. Catharines has a unique genre selection and appeals to a variety of people. It can be an experience of worth and development to head out to see some new bands, whether they’re within the genres of music that you’re used to or way, way outside of it. This is key to getting involved in the arts and culture scene of St. Catharines. By exposing yourself to new bands and music at a live venue, you’ll get to meet new people and make connections to other possible aspects of the music, arts and culture scene! It’s also a huge method of personal growth.

St. Paul Street, Downtown St. Catharines /

St. Paul Street, Downtown St. Catharines /

If you’re more interested in going out and checking out the St. Catharines club scene, the city is not shy of available options. While the warmer weather lasts, some clubs offer their patio and balcony dance floor for a place to relax and dance. Many of the clubs in St. Catharines have specific days of the week that they have drink specials and you’ll catch on to which night each club is the go-to.

A fairly new addition to downtown St. Catharines is a comedy club that holds weekly events like Thursday’s Amateur Nights and Variety Nights, as well as headlining “Pro” shows on the weekend. Although it isn’t a music venue, it’s an excellent way to go out and relieve some stress with some light hearted, amateur comedy. For students, there are sign up lists available to try their hand at stand up, but it also acts as an all ages venue for students to take a night off on the weekend to grab your friends and have a laugh. It can be a mixed bag just like any other amateur night would be, but it’s good for a laugh and you might even find yourself thinking in new ways afterward. For those of age, the club also offers full bar selection.

The Niagara Artists Centre, also located in downtown St. Catharines, establishes themselves as a “not-for-profit, charitably registered, member-driven collective formed by and dedicated to serving the working artists and community of Niagara.” Not only does the NAC hold a lot of weight culturally, but it supports and drives a huge part of the art scene in downtown St. Catharines and the greater Niagara region. The NAC is a platform for music shows, art galleries, exhibitions, film showings, and many community gatherings and meet-ups. When tackling the arts and culture scene in St. Catharines, the NAC is an essential piece of the puzzle.

These can all be starting points for your adventure into the arts and culture scene and community of St  Catharines. Although it might be intimidating, the best advice for getting involved is to just show up and allow yourself to be open about all of these new experiences. If anything is even a little bit of interest to you, go and give it a try. The goal is not only to try new things, but also to connect with the people that you will meet at these venues and shows. You may find passions that you didn’t know you had previously, and these very passions will snowball when you start to communicate with other people in the arts community. You may even want to try your hand at creating content, or if you already do create content, and these venues will allow you to reach out and connect with the right people to support you in your endeavours on that front. Either way, simply putting yourself out there to listen and look, and appreciate, is still an incredibly worthwhile effort.

Look up the groups and venues you are interested in, most of them have Facebook pages that list a lot of their events and gatherings. If you join or keep tabs on their page, you’ll be able to get ahead of events coming up and work it in with your schedule if you’re busy as a student full time or part time — and remember, tons of places have student discount nights or shows, or may be totally free, so take advantage! Another tip is to try your hand at volunteering. St Catharines is home to many festivals in the fall, winter, and spring; if you can’t spare the cash but have the time, volunteer with the events! That way you will still be able to get involved. The St Catharines arts and culture community awaits, so allow yourself the ability to test out new waters and you will be rewarded with new, worthwhile experiences.

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